- Signatories of the Ethiopia peace deal have reiterated their commitment to peace and accepted the need for accountability and transitional justice.
- The US has granted a R5.95-billion humanitarian assistance package for Ethiopia in 2023.
- Ethiopia is also working on set benchmarks for readmission into the US' African Growth and Opportunity Act.
Overcoming poisonous grievances and ethnic divisions is the only way to break the cycle of political and ethnic violence in Ethiopia, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.
Blinken arrived in Ethiopia on Tuesday night with a brief to review the cessation of hostilities in the Tigray region and also look into reports of human rights violations.
On Wednesday, Blinken's first meeting was with Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen.
He then met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. They "discussed the significant progress in implementing the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement following the silencing of the guns in northern Ethiopia," the US state department said in a statement.
Blinken also met Ethiopian civil society organisations regarding their concerns about reports of human rights violations.
"We have been talking a lot, of course, about the very important cessation of hostilities in Tigray, which has produced very significant benefits, but one aspect of that is, of course, the importance of transitional justice and accountability, making sure that the rights of every Ethiopian are protected," Blinken said at a media conference ahead of the meeting.
The highlight of Blinken's visit was his meeting with the signatories of the peace deal that ended two years of fighting in Tigray in November.
During the meeting, Ethiopia's National Security Advisor Redwan Hussein and Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) spokesperson Getachew Reda shared the progress being made with the peace deal.
They outlined the improvements made in the silencing of guns, delivery of humanitarian assistance, restoration of services as well as the removal of Tigrayan heavy weapons and the withdrawal of Eritrean forces. They said a lot of work was still needed regarding the Pretoria Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA).
"They spoke about the importance of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration programme and the need for it to be fully developed and implemented," the US state department said in a statement.
Blinken also announced a new humanitarian assistance package for Ethiopia for 2023.
"We're going to be providing an addition $331 million (R6 billion) in assistance through this joint emergency operations programme to try to reach more people in Ethiopia who are in need of food security, and we think we'll reach another 13 million or so people being affected by drought in particular," he said during a tour of a United Nations logistics centre warehouse on Wednesday.
Blinken also noted that aid to Tigray had increased and basic services were gradually being restored.
"Humanitarian assistance is flowing, finally reaching nearly all communities in need; services are being restored in the Tigray region; the TPLF is disarming; Eritrean and other non-federal forces are departing.
"The dedicated diplomacy of the mediators from the African Union (AU), from Kenya, from South Africa, supported by the United States, was essential to securing this agreement. And the AU monitoring mechanism is a key to its full implementation," he said during an address at Addis Ababa University.
The US suspended Ethiopia from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) trade preference programme in January 2022 because of the war in Tigray.
With the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, Ethiopia now has clear benchmarks for a pathway toward reinstatement.
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